Holiday videos: Gentoo penguin chicks learn their trade

December 25, 2019 • 9:15 am

Today, of course, we must see penguins. Reader Michael sent this video along with his own summary of the BBC Earth video, given below:

Natural World: Penguin Post Office On a tiny island in Antarctica, there’s a post office surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery and 4,000 Gentoo penguins… Every summer, as tourists turn up in their hundreds to see the penguins and to send a postcard, the birds rush to find a partner and raise their young. This extraordinary four-month drama starts when the first penguin hops onto the island and continues until the last one leaves and the post office closes its doors for winter.

The post office must be at the British station Port Lockroy, which we cruised by on November 18, intending to visit, but we couldn’t land because ice clogged the harbor. Here’s a photo I took when the captain radioed the base and asked the inhabitants to come out and wave to us, which they did. You can see the gentoos all about, and a cluster to the left:

From Cuverville Island:

I am constantly thinking about Antarctica, which made a huge impression on me, but this time I decided to figure out why it preys on my mind. As best I can see, it’s because Antarctica induces the same kind of wonder and awe—”spirituality”, if you must use the term—as does the sight of the Milky Way on a clear night. Antarctica is nearly as remote, and just as beautiful, but it doesn’t care about us at all, for at best we can be temporary and insignificant spectators. As I sit here drinking coffee and typing, I know those those vast and silent snowy lands are down there, painted with a palette of just blue, black, and white, and inaccessible to me now. Except for an occasional tourist, and some nesting penguins, the land abides on its own. I hope the place stays as it is now, but with global warming things look dire. We may be insignificant to that continent, but we have the power to destroy it. Go while you can.

A few more photos:

Not from Antarctica (from the Falklands), but I like it because it shows all stages of chick molting:

10 thoughts on “Holiday videos: Gentoo penguin chicks learn their trade

  1. How about posting a side-by-side of one of you original pix and the same one as you had to degrade it to send it from the ship’s limited internet. Just curious.

  2. The penguins should be a great lesson for humanity but not likely. Animals such as these can exist and do well in a very harsh climate specifically because it is remove and not friendly to humans. This will continue as long as the human does not screw it up.

  3. The Australian PM has just dismissed Greta Thunberg’s warning. Australians don’t need no outsiders butting in!

    We’re doomed.

    1. Australia such a beautiful land and humans continue to destroy its flora and fauna. Not well known, but as a land with nutrient poor soil and a mostly dry climate, it’s one of the greatest ongoing environmental disasters on earth. Lots of farming expanded into unsustainable land, with the government (until recently) paying people to clear the native vegetation.

  4. I was lucky to be on the same trip as PCC(E), and entirely agree with his analysis of the appeal of Antarctica. I am a “fervent atheist” but am comfortable with using the word spirituality to describe my response to this incredible place, as it makes my spirits soar. For me spiritually is a beautiful human response to the world around us, nothing more and nothing less, but important for all that.

  5. In the BBC video there are two gentoo chicks attempting to get an adult to feed them. I assume gentoos, like other penguins, have only one chick at a time. So is one of them an interloper?

Leave a Reply